We all know dogs are compassionate, loving, and gentle. When they beg for treats it can be hard not to share! However, we must remember that while chocolate is the perfect sweet treat to share with our human friends, it can make our dogs very sick. Even though chocolate consumption is seldom lethal, it can cause mild to severe health complications in pets.
Theobromine is the primary toxin in chocolate. The amount of Theobromine present depends on the type of chocolate. Darker, more bitter varieties contain the most theobromine. This means that Dark chocolate such as baker’s chocolate, semisweet chocolate, cocoa powder, and gourmet dark chocolate candies have higher levels of theobromine than milk chocolate
Exactly how much chocolate is safe for a dog to consume before it turns toxic?
The risk of chocolate poisoning increases with the amount of chocolate consumed, and while it is unlikely that your dog will experience severe chocolate poisoning from eating a couple of chocolate chips that fell on the floor, it is good to understand how much chocolate can lead to an extremely dangerous outcome. Some general guidelines to keep in mind:
- Ingesting more than 0.5 ounces of milk chocolate per pound of body weight may put dogs at risk for chocolate poisoning.
- Eating more than 0.13 ounces per pound of dark or semi-sweet chocolate may cause poisoning to dogs.
- If your pet has ingested any amount of baker’s chocolate, seek emergency treatment as chocolate poisoning is likely.
- Young animals, pets with underlying diseases, and older pets are at an increased risk for chocolate poisoning and must be treated more conservatively
- Some pets may develop pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) after eating chocolate or baked goods containing chocolate due to the high fat content.
|White chocolate||0.25 mg/oz|
|Milk chocolate||44-60 mg/oz|
|Dark semisweet||135 mg/oz|
|Unsweetened baker’s chocolate||390-450 mg/oz|
|Dry cocoa powder||400-737 mg/oz|
|Cocoa beans||300-1500 mg/oz|
|Cocoa bean mulch||56-900 mg/oz|
How can I tell if my dog has eaten chocolate?
Clinical symptoms differ depending on the amount and kind of chocolate ingested as well as the age and health conditions of your pet. The most common symptoms in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, panting, restlessness, copious urination, and a rapid heart rate.
Other potential symptoms include heart failure and muscle spasms in more severe cases. If your pet has consumed chocolate, you should call your veterinarian and monitor your pet for any changes in behavior.
The first step in treating your pet for any health issue is to call your veterinarian to start treatment as quickly as possible. They will induce vomiting and administer medical grade activated charcoal. If needed your pet’s care team may also administer Iv fluids for hydration and sedatives to keep your pup calm.
In more severe cases additional action may be needed such as administering medications to reduce blood pressure and heart rate as well as antacids to relieve stomach discomfort, and anticonvulsants to treat seizures.
Pets who have ingested a small amount of chocolate typically recover quickly with minimal issues (they are likely to experience a mild upset stomach).
Pets with clinical signs consistent with mild chocolate poisoning (like mild stomach upset or slight restlessness) have an excellent prognosis.
Pets experiencing severe signs of poisoning such as collapse and seizures, have a poor prognosis without aggressive care.